Bruneians demand sophisticated banking products, says Baiduri Bank CEO Pierre Imhof. They are wealthy, travel the world and expect the same quality and ease of banking at home as they do abroad. Pierre explains how Baiduri is meeting this challenge: from a series of technology firsts in the retail space, to online merchant services with the highest security available for SMEs and large enterprises.
Click on the second part of our interview with Pierre, where he discusses the upcoming opening of the Baiduri stock exchange.
Global finance: Brunei’s stock exchange is set to open later this year, sparking renewed international interest in the small – but wealthy – island nation. The initiative is expected to contribute to the government’s ongoing efforts to diversify the economy. I am accompanied by Pierre Imhof from Baiduri Bank.
How are the diversification efforts going?
Peter Imhof: The diversification process of the last two years, with the evolution of oil and gas prices, has become a top priority. Thus, the government has intensified its diversification efforts, and banks are playing a major role in this process: targeting mainly SMEs, and then foreign direct investment.
These initiatives are a top priority under Wawasan 2035, which is the government’s long-term development plan to create a healthy and financially sustainable nation.
World Finance: How does Baiduri Bank play a role in this?
Peter Imhof: We are very keen to fund short-term business needs; we are also very keen to fund some of their long term needs, grow their business, fund a new project, etc.
We know our customers well, the relationship is very personalized. We understand their needs, we are able to offer solutions that meet their needs.
For example, for very small businesses, we have launched a product called MerchantSuite, which gives our small customers the ability to transact online, receive payments online without having to create their own website.
Global finance: Attracting foreign direct investment, another important role for banks to play in diversification efforts; how do you achieve it?
Peter Imhof: The whole Brunei banking system is very sound and Baiduri Bank is no exception. Baiduri Bank has very solid capital, which undoubtedly guarantees foreign direct investors when they come to Brunei that they will find a bank capable of supporting them, a range of good quality services, and in which they can put their trust.
Another element is that banking operations with the highest level of security are very important for all customers. Baiduri Bank was the first bank in Brunei to have developed the PCI-DSS standard, which is a very high level of security for data protection.
World Finance: You mentioned earlier the trend towards digital services; what other types of additional services do companies – whether domestic or foreign – demand from banks?
Peter Imhof: We are seeing, as I mentioned, a greater demand from businesses to do their transactions, their transfers, through Internet banking.
When they have retail clients, they like to offer services online. And the banks behind the scenes provide the technology for these businesses to process their payments online.
What I think we are going to see more and more is the development of new means of payment, and we are working to offer our customers these new means of payment in the future.
World Finance: And what are the latest trends in the retail banking environment in Brunei?
Peter Imhof: Brunei’s retail market is, for banks, quite sophisticated. Bruneians are wealthy. They travel. They know what is happening all over the world. We must therefore always be far ahead of our product offering in the retail segment.
We are the first bank, many years ago, to offer internet banking services; and mobile banking is an area where we are evolving rapidly, and where we are strongly developing our presence.
And in Brunei, we were also the first bank to launch PayWave, this new technology: our customers like to tap, pay and go.
These are technologies that we are increasingly using in Brunei for our retail customers.
World Finance: Pierre, thank you very much.
Peter Imhof: Thank you.